They say the best camera you have is the one you have with you at all times. And when you go around vacation hot spots and bring with you your bulky equipment, it could sometimes bog down an otherwise easy-going trip.

Luckily, smartphones have been beefing up their internals so photo and video documentation could somewhat be at par (if not better) than some digital recording devices. Take Asus’ update on the widely received ZenFone Zoom, the ZenFone 3 Zoom.

ZenFone 3 Zoom Dual Lens

The ZenFone Zoom packs two (2) 12-megapixel cameras working simultaneously allowing you to catch any moment desired. The ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih exclaimed that the ZenFone 3 Zoom is a “photographic dream machine” during the unveiling at CES2017 (one of the larger consumer electronic shows globally).

Both cameras do different things as you’ll see in this spec sheet:

Rear Camera Specs

This mix and match of cameras, lenses and processor means that your photos can come out crisper and clearer on practically any setting you may so desire.

We took the Zoom during our past 2 trips in Malaysia and in El Nido and here are some stunning photos taken by the phone’s dual camera.

The ZenFone 3 Zoom can take complex lighting parameters and make sense with the various sensors that it has.

ZenFone 3 Zoom El Nido 4

Even if the sun is shining so bright, it calibrates so that your photos do not come out over exposed.

Cat statue in Kuching, Sarawak, Malasia

Cat statue in Kuching, Sarawak, Malasia. Taken around 12noon

Colors come out vibrant without the need to add filters.

Taken at around 10:30am at Apulit Resorts, El Nido, Palawan

Taken at around 10:30am at Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan

Of course, the distinct advantage of the camera, as the name implies, is its 12x zoom. To make it effective, though, we suggest putting your phone on a stand or tripod.

The power of 12x Zoom!

The power of 12x Zoom!

Macro  photography is pretty easy as well as the camera tends to shift lens instantaneous depending on what you need to shoot at that moment.

ZenFone 3 Zoom Macro Photography

Shot at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The front-facing camera produces decent selfies as well. With a 13-megapixel f/2.0 lens, capturing selfies and even groufies becomes really easy.

With Nicole Batac of 2.0 Magazine on our way to Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan for Epson Fusion 8

With Nicole Batac of 2.0 Magazine on our way to Apulit Resort, El Nido, Palawan for Epson Fusion 8


Pre-departure with the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor and a host of other Pinoy greats going to Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.

Pre-departure with the one and only Superstar Nora Aunor and a host of other Pinoy greats going to Kuching, Sarawak Malaysia.

Because of the 2 rear camera sensors, the ZenFone 3 Zoom is able to handle various night-time photography shots with better output than its predecessor. Whether you’re off to more formal evening affairs

Mr. Bernardo Bernardo holding the AIFFA 2017 trophy for their work with Imbisibol at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Mr. Bernardo Bernardo holding the AIFFA 2017 trophy for their work with Imbisibol at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

or something a liiiitle bit rowdier, you don’t have to worry about not catching that shot.

AIFFA Festival Director Livan Tajang, Director Raymond Red and Cannes Best Actress Winner Ms. Jacklyn Jose at the Junk, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

AIFFA Festival Director Livan Tajang, Director Raymond Red and Cannes Best Actress Winner Ms. Jacklyn Jose at the JUNK, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

The ZenFone 3 Zoom can also record at 4K, which comes in particularly useful if you’re fond of creating nifty vacation vids.

While we’re not discounting a standalone camera’s worth, we just find it more convenient to bring a phone that packs a pretty solid camera as your main lens when traveling. The ease of convenience, the varied 3rd party apps that instantaneously enhances photos and videos quickly, and the on-the-spot sharing of creative content on social makes bringing a smartphone the more practical (if not ideal) choice. And with ZenFone 3 Zoom’s whopping 5000 mAH internal battery, you can take as much photos and videos as you want without worrying about your phone dying soon. In our travels, the phone lasted usually a day before we had to recharge it again. Not bad indeed.

If you’re in the market for a sensible smartphone that has amazing camera options, the ZenFone 3 Zoom might be the phone for you. It’s currently priced at Php 23, 990 and available nationwide through official distributors of ASUS goods.

For more technical reading on the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom, head over to our sister site’s feature:

ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom Review: Second Time’s The Charm

Leave your bulky camera at home! The ZenFone Zoom is all you need for travel!

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Shanghai Tang, Hong Kong

Shanghai Tang, Hong Kong

I was barely out of college when I first encountered this illustrious brand. I stumbled upon a small and colorful boutique of neon-colored traditional Chinese clothing donned in silk and other ornate embellishments somewhere in Central, Hong Kong. I would later discover that Shanghai Tang, while originally Hong Kong-based, was getting known internationally for their quirky design and superior craftsmanship. The price isn’t something to scoff at as well as they can rival other known Italian or French designers. And as someone with Chinese roots, I’m quite happy to see a luxury brand of Chinese-descent that’s competing on the world stage.

Old-world flair meets contemporary design! Stunning pieces of lux clothing here.

Old-world flair meets contemporary design! Stunning pieces of lux clothing here.

So, when about a month ago I heard that this famed Hong Kong fashion house dropped its fragrance line here in Manila, I was stoked! I knew Shanghai Tang released a fragrance line some time in 2014 but I’ve had very little luck in securing a sample or even getting any extensive info about the collection. In fact, very little information was revealed in perfumers monolithic website,

Shanghai Tang Silkroad Collection2

Even over at Shanghai Tang’s official website, the fragrances are mostly sold out and it is pretty difficult to find this stuff over at online retailers and discount shops like, Fragrancex, or Fragrancenet…even eBay. I’ve been asking my friends who frequent Hong Kong for a bottle since last year and everyone came back empty-handed. :’(

"Oh where, oh where could my baby be ~..."

“Oh where, oh where could my baby be ~…”

Luckily, of course, Rustan’s Marketing Corporation—the official distributor of Shanghai Tang fragrances here in the Philippines was able to acquire the collection. But I first got wind of this dropping in Manila through Art of Scent’s Facebook Page (they carry the line as well).

Shanghai Tang Art of Scent

Shanghai Tang’s Silk Road collection is comprised of 5 EDP bottles marketed for women and 3 EDT bottles marketed towards men. The nose behind it is Carlos Benaim who have had numerous incredible creations under his belt. Calvin Klein’s seminal classic, Eternity being one of them.

Behold! If you're a collector and want to purchase the complete line, you can get a numbered limited-edition lacquered box set too.

This beautifully and highly limited-edition (not to mention numbered) lacquer box can be yours if you purchase all bottles!

Meticulously crafted, the Silk Road Collection boasts of everything Shanghai Tang.  The bottle design incorporates the brand’s signature SHOU logo (a Chinese Symbol of longevity, wealth, love and virtue). The women’s bottle incorporates the Lucky number 8 while the men’s bottle utilizes a streamlined gem-like design.

The SHOU, (also Shanghai Tang's symbol of choice) is engraved on the cover of the box display.

The SHOU, (also Shanghai Tang’s symbol of choice) is engraved on the cover of the box display.

Drawing inspiration from the legendary 4000-mile trade route than spanned from China to the rest of Europe, Middle East and Asia, the Silk Road collection harnesses exotic ingredients mixed with oriental characteristics –such as spices, varying tea and flowers generally associated with Eastern culture.

Silk Road Image


To take it a step further, I’d like to think of the collection as an epic Chinese Martial Arts opera. Wherein the main actors, the set-design and even the setting all play an important role in crafting this wonderful and spiritual world. Think the likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or movies of Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Dagger). It’s that level of imagery that one can get from the collection — and it is exquisite!

Zhang Zi Yi

Shush. I smell something…

The men’s line sets the stage for the collection. The scents all conjure up various breath-taking landscape imagery like taking a horseback ride across the vast deserts of Xinjiang Province or wading lush Bamboo fields in the Emerald Valley at Anhui Province.

Bold, lush and full of visual imagery.

Bold, lush and full of visual imagery.

Obviously, being a huge fan of vetiver  I immediately zoomed in on Jade Dragon as it promised to harness the heart of Vetiver while being infused with Tea and Jasmine. While I would have wanted a more rooty and earthy approach to the fragrance, this uniquely green and absolutely refreshing concoction works best with our current season. The green casing perfectly encapsulates how refreshing this fragrance is without being soapy or falling into the typical marine categories.

Jade Dragon Shanghai Tang

L’Orient presents a bit of a challenge as the scent can be incredibly woody especially during the mid. The soft leather accord on top gives this scent a supple creaminess to it that’s alluring and thoroughly enjoyable. The middle part is where cedar shines the most. If you’re a fan of this wood then this one’s for you. Reminds me of pencil shavings but with more class, of course. The dry down is where the magic truly lies for L’Orient.

Shanghai Tang Mens

Mandarin Tea latches on to Neroli and Tea. The tea notes in Shanghai Tang gives the fragrances it’s sharp and dry texture yet the Neroli, and other citruses adds just the right amount of zest.

All 3 men’s line shines amazingly during the Spring or Summer time.

While the men’s line conveys great imagery, the women’s line follows a distinct sensuality and gaiety that embodies the Shanghai Tang woman: strong, decisive, extremely cunning,  graceful and always poised.

Shanghai Tang Woman

The five Shanghai Tang Silk Road Collection geared towards women are: Oriental Pearl, Orchid Bloom, Spring Jasmine, Rose Silk

Silkroad womens1

… and Golden Lily — beautiful white Lilies and Jasmine wrapped with accents of Orange flowers, Patchouli and Musk creating this invitingly soft fragrance.

Shanghai Tang Golden Lily


However, it was Oriental Pearl that won me over the collection (and became the first bottle that I purchased from this house).

Sweet and Sublime

Sweet and Sublime

While marketed towards women, this variant works well as a unisex fragrance. This wonderful amber-vanilla-patchouli combo creates a gorgeous gourmand without being too overpowering (although has the tendency to be slightly cloying at the start if sprayed one too many times). As an EDP, all you really need are a few spritz and you’re good to go.

Sweet, crisp, sublime and a bit powdery, the closest perfume that I can associate this with is Chanel’s Les Exclusif line, Coromandel. That’s a testament to how wonderfully made these perfumes are.

Shanghai Tang Silkroad Group

If you’re looking for something vastly different, unquestionably beautiful and sublimely crafted, then Shanghai Tang Silk Road collection might fit right between your known designers and 5-figured niche bottles.

Shanghai Tang Silk Road collection is available at Rustan’s and Art of Scent boutiques for Php 5,850.00 for the 100ml EDT and 60ml EDP.

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Ever since I was young, the first cost-cutting tactic I learned when booking a vacation in Hong Kong was to opt for breakfast outside the hotel. Normally, that meant a trip to the nearest McDonald’s – to enjoy their sausage mcmuffin with egg.

This all changed when my friend Carla introduced me to Mak’s Noodles (not McNoodles). This restaurant is famous for its wonton noodle soup. At first I said “What could be so special with wonton noodle soup?! They all taste the same.” Then Carla said Anthony Bourdain once ate there and he loved it! So okay, let’s try it for breakfast.

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During our Unpacked Hong Kong adventure, I stumbled upon Côte&Ciel bags displayed in an Apple reseller store on the top levels of Windsor House in Causeway Bay (the store across Park Lane Hotel).  I’ve actually been a huge fan of the brand when I first found about it in Manila and I’ve been looking for an orange variant for the longest time. Lo and behold, the bags the store had in display in HK was the striking orange one I’ve been on the watch out for! Boom. Credit card. Swipe!

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We recently shared with you guys 10 experiences you shouldn’t miss out on should you decide to take a vacation in Japan. We’re going to add one more! Universal Studios Japan is opening their newest Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) attraction in Osaka on January 23. The theme park will contain real sized Titans (flesh-eating giants). Heck they already confirmed that there will be a 49-foot tall Eren Titan fighting a 46-foot tall female Titan! That alone will make the trip worth it!

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